Miami-Dade Commissioners Postpone Vote on Urban Development Boundary Expansion

Gianna Hutton, Senior Media Editor

On May 19, developers seeking to expand the Urban Development Boundary for the first time since 2013 failed to secure enough votes. This prompted a postponed vote on turning 800 acres of farmland into an industrial complex environmental groups want to protect. 

Developers Aligned Real Estate Holdings and Coral Rock Development are pushing to move the UDB to build the South Dade Logistics and Technology District, which would include warehouses, a hotel and a shopping center. 

Expanding the UDB requires nine of the 13 commissioners’ support; the vote tied 6-6 with one commissioner absent. Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s office, county planning staff, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried and environmental groups have all staunchly opposed the expansion. 

Aligned Real Estate Holdings and Coral Rock Development justified the nine million-square-foot project as a necessary catalyst for employment in the South Dade region to help residents forgo the commutes to areas such as Doral and Downtown Miami for work. Supporters of the project pointed toward the estimated 11,000 jobs developers have promised, urging to not hold back economic expansion. However, the Hold the Line Coalition, an umbrella group of local environmental organizations and nonprofits, released an analysis in April exposing the employment claims as inflated, reducing the predicted opportunities to a maximum of about 5,000 new jobs. 

Dade County staff opposed the application, citing concerns that developers only controlled about 50% of the site and prompting the question of how the other half would be developed without receiving landowner consent if the UDB was extended.

Environmental regulation agencies on the state and federal levels sent comment letters warning of the pollution, its imposition on Everglades restoration projects and its potential to cause flooding in nearby neighborhoods. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried delivered public comment, traveling from Tallahassee to urge the commission in person to oppose the expansion. 

In the final assessment of the proposed development, county planning staff found:

  • The proposal fails to meet county guidelines for safe or approved development; its location places the industrial complex on land highly vulnerable to storms in the coastal high hazard zone, an area county code warns against developing.
  • The proposal fails to rationalize the land selected and needs to extend the UDB when there are over 500 acres of vacant industrially-zoned property inside the county.
  • This proposal is located on land explicitly studied as an option for Everglades restoration projects to help restore the flow of Biscayne Bay and has been tagged as important for South Florida Water Management District plans to control flooding. 

The commission will meet again on June 1 to finalize voting and discussion.